Bending The Medium
Part 1 of ROBERT TOWELL'S Bowling series, "It Wouldn't Kill You To Stop."
CULTURE, 07/01/2001: BOWLING Ill be the first to say it, there is little life left in bowling and art. There wasnt anything there. It wasnt even a one night stand with me, I dont remember the sex. The movement of the game over my body undoing my pants and taking me in. Each day I carry on, fettered to the pins as it were; there is a little bit of space left to walk. A little bit of plank left and then, its time to swim with them sharks. It is arguably to dumbest thing I ever did and I did it for so long. Bowling in general is a pre-determined event set out frame by frame, lace bit by lace bit, by Satan himself.
The truth is, unless you just sit there in the bowling alley, use it as a backdrop, the medium is totally void of anything coherently passionate, it doesnt move or fuck or talk back. Its a host, a dirty thing that gets invaded by unsafe shoe sex.
In my first of two installments I hope to better the world through demonstrating unique approaches to bowling related art. Or at least take up word counts towards my life sentence of bowling journalism. What kind of freak show drug has made me remember to do this? To write this? When did I take it? What pharmacy did I walk into thinking it was a great buffet table? Whatever it is, its still in me, and its still going strong. Maybe I was born next to a radio-active bowling alley. The haunting stupidity of the senseless game, an omen, some sort of shaman demon disco fever that sweats continual. But I digress.
Each artist, like each bowler approaching the medium in their own way.
At first I thought I would write about Robert Putnams book BOWLING ALONE: America's Declining Social Capital but then I got lost in the deluge of boring artless sadness sterile I thought I was bowling.
Of all the bowling related art Ive collected over the past three years, one book has stood on its own. A "pulp artifact" by fictional author Dashiell Loveless, designed in the fashion of a 1940s detective novel. The story By The Balls is that of detective Ben Drake who investigates the who and the why behind the brutal murder of local bowling hero Gentleman Joe Biggs. Its beautifully written, one scene early on shows a family bowling next to Gentelman Joe Biggss flower adorned lane. The book is so tiny and cute that its worth the cost of shipping from Ugly Town Books.
Im not intentionally running an infomercial on this book, but I will say this, you should read it. Its something that is warm and fuzzy and also entirely aesthetically pure. The art is sparse, there isnt much of it, but when it does come, it is a great break in the dingy little narrative. The book itself is the selling point, like a team of mad scientist trying to make a bowling murder mystery in some sort of pre-med initiation. By The Balls is a pure piece of bowling art because it is so dismissive, so unintentional that one cant help but think this entire book didnt even need a bowling sub-plot. Its just there. They arent making anything out of bowling that isnt there. And its about fucking time because bowling is so goddamn stupid.